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Szafnauer Claps Back at Famin Upholds Alpine F1 Tactics

Szafnauer Claps Back at Famin, Upholds Alpine F1 Tactics

29/04/2024

Otmar Szafnauer counters Bruno Famin’s critique, clarifying his role and decisions at Alpine F1 amid performance struggles.

Otmar Szafnauer expressed frustration with remarks made by Bruno Famin, the director of Alpine F1, who blamed him for the team’s poor performance. The former director, who left the team after the Belgian GP in July 2023, explains why his leadership is not to blame for the A524.

“We have limited time for CFD and wind tunnel testing,” Szafnauer stated. “Therefore, it is not possible to operate three wind tunnels, nor to use one to its full capacity. For this reason, and considering the structure of our reports—I believe we do a report every eight weeks—almost everyone works on the current car until the summer break.”

“Afterwards, depending on how quickly you can produce the results up to the break, some of these improvements are only added as late as Singapore. If you can produce them faster, they get to the car sooner. But generally, Singapore is the last major update you make.”

“The Singapore update was designed in June, July, right before the break. After the break, everyone moves on to the next year’s car and from the current year’s car, you learn things. You can change the chassis, you can change the geometry, you can switch from a pull rod to a push rod… you make changes.”

“And when you change something, it’s mainly for aerodynamic reasons. Then, you start changing models and you start conducting different experiments that don’t necessarily apply to this year’s car.”

“That’s what happened at Renault, Alan [Permane] and I left in July and it was after our departure that they started working on next year’s car. For those who are uninformed, it might seem that all these problems were caused by these guys. I don’t think that’s the case.”

Szafnauer also explained that, in his view, Renault does not have a correct understanding of the Formula 1 challenge, as do other brands: “Not from what I’ve seen. Not just Renault, but major automotive companies, even those for whom racing is part of their DNA, should not get involved. It’s so different from an automotive company that it should be left to the experts.

“The only similarities are these: there are five wheels on a car and five in a race car—four wheels and a steering wheel—and that’s it. The rest is very different. Yes, we talk about cars, but the technological development is different, the technology used is different, the level of engineering is different, the level of training of engineers is different.”

“When I was at Ford Motor Company, there were two management paths. On one hand, you could follow a technical management path, meaning if you had a PhD in mechanical engineering or aerodynamics, you could follow a technical management path rather than a non-technical management path. And there were not many PhDs in engineering, for a large company.”

“When I was at British American Racing, I believe Gary Savage, the assistant technical director of the team, once said ‘we have more doctors here than in a local hospital,’ which was true. And they did not come from mediocre universities; they were all from Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial. This isn’t so much the case in America, but we worked with people from MIT and Caltech.”

“So, they are a) very brilliant, b) educated at the highest level of Formula 1, and most importantly, they love this sport, which explains why they are highly motivated to win. This is not the case in automotive companies. I’m not saying this about Renault, but I would say it about Ford.”

“At Ford, we used to say that Ford Motor Company does not make cars, but careers. So, when you were at Ford, you cared about the automotive program you were part of, but you mainly cared about your career, while in Formula 1, you care about performance on the track. This is an important difference.”

Szafnauer Claps Back at Famin Upholds Alpine F1 Tactics

Szafnauer Claps Back at Famin, Upholds Alpine F1 Tactics. Szafnauer Claps Back at Famin, Upholds Alpine F1 Tactics

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